One Day in La Fortuna

One Day Waterfalls and Wildlife Itinerary

  • La Fortuna Waterfall
  • Lunch from Panaderia La Principal
  • Bogarin Sloth Trail
  • Dinner at Tiquicia
La Fortuna Sign

There is plenty to do in and around La Fortuna including a whole host of white knuckle activities. But if, like me, you like to keep your feet firmly on the ground, then there are waterfalls and wildlife to enjoy. Add in some great food and you have the perfect recipe for a great day out in La Fortuna.

La Fortuna Waterfall

PlaceLa Fortuna Waterfall
Opening Times7-5
Price$18 (card only)
Driving ScheduleLa Fortuna to Waterfall
Distance5 km
Driving Time10 minutes

First up, La Fortuna Waterfall. The short drive from the town of La Fortuna to the waterfall is all along paved roads. This brings you to a large, free car park. As the ticket desk, wristbands can be purchased which give access to the waterfall and other attractions.

La Fortuna Waterfall from upper lookout
La Fortuna Waterfall from upper lookout

It is a short walk to a viewpoint overlooking the waterfall. Once you’ve had the obligatory photo stop, it’s time to set off down the 530 steps to the waterfall. The path is well maintained and easy to negotiate with handrails all the way down.

La Fortuna Waterfall from lower lookout
La Fortuna Waterfall from lower lookout

At the bottom is another lookout, or you can go hard core and actually swim in the waterfall. It’s very rocky, so difficult to access, plus the rocks are wet, so slippery and the current is strong. In my opinion, it’s more of a spectator activity. Most people appeared to be pretending to get in, taking a photo, then not actually climbing over the boulders into the freezing water.

Swimming by La Fortuna waterfall
Swimming by the waterfall

Much more inviting (and safer) is the pool next to the waterfall, which is lovely and refreshing. The force exerted by the waterfall makes it a bit like swimming in an infinity pool, and you can swim up to near the waterfall, then float back downstream again.

Swimming in Rio Fortuna
Swimming in Rio Fortuna

Once you have had our fill of waterfall and swimming, it’s time to climb the 530 steps back to the entrance. It took less time than I’d anticipated. The area is beautifully landscaped and there are inspirational quotes (and step counts) along the way to spur you on, plus seating areas in case you need a break mid climb.

Tropical flower
Flower next to the waterfall trail

At the top, included in the ticket price, are an orchid trail and butterfly trail. Although there weren’t any orchids when we visited in January (apparently they bloom in May), it was still a pleasant walk amidst the flowers and foliage of the rainforest. We didn’t spot any butterflies in the butterfly garden either, although we did see a very beautiful hummingbird. There are also toilets, changing rooms with showers, a cafe and a gift shop.


Lunch from Panaderia la Principal

Drive back into La Fortuna in time for lunch. We chose Panaderia la Principal, drawn in by the window displays bulging with a huge array of delicious breads and cakes. It is in the centre of town, opposite the church. And it’s close to the park, so the perfect place for a picnic. Especially good were the Trenzas; Spanish for plait, these braided breads come in both savoury varieties. We opted for bread stuffed with chicken, cheese and beans, which was so delicious we went back for another Trenza – this time stuffed with cream cheese and pineapple.

Bread stuffed with cheese and beans from Panderia la Principal
Trenza with chicken, cheese and beans from Panaderia la Principal

Bogarin Sloth Trail

PlaceBogarin Sloth Trail
Opening Times7-5 (guided tours at 7, 9, 11, 1, 3, night tour at 5)
PriceSelf guided pass $15
Guided tour $35 (cash only)
Driving ScheduleLa Fortuna to Sloth Trail
Distance1.5 km
Driving Time5 minutes

After lunch, it’s time to go in search of sloths. There are several sloth trails around La Fortuna. We opted for Bogarin Sloth Trail because it had a self guided tour option. Guided tours are also available, but we found that wherever there was a sloth, there was a group of people gathered, so a guide wasn’t really necessary.

Bogarin Sloth Trail map
Bogarin Sloth Trail map

Bogarin Sloth Trail is just off the main road just outside La Fortuna on Route 142 (if you reach Maxi Pali, you’ve gone too far). The trail is around 2.5 kilometres long, and well signposted. It took a while to locate a sloth – we walked round the trail for some time, until our necks ached. Eventually we were rewarded by spotting two sloths – a mother and baby. To be more accurate, we found a group of people looking up a tree, rather than actually spotting the sloths.


It’s quite exciting, apart from the fact that they don’t really do anything except hang from a tree. But we did see plenty of other wildlife on the trail, including agouti, coati and toucans.


Dinner at Tiquicia

Today has involved quite a lot of walking. Refuel with some typical Costa Rican food. We opted for Tiquicia, a kilometre south of town on Route 702. This cosy little restaurant is further out of town than most, but is worth the trip. The food was amazing. I especially enjoyed the starter of patacones (plantain which is fried, mashed, formed into pancakes and fried again). I was too busy stuffing my face to take a photo, so here is one I borrowed from the restaurant’s website…

Tiquicia Patacones

Where to Stay?

We stated at Hotel Arenal Xilopalo and we loved it. The rooms are clean and spacious and we had a balcony overlooking the volcano. The hotel is set in beautiful grounds; while we were checking in, an iguana and a hummingbird appeared at the tree next to reception.

Hotel Arenal Xilopalo
Hotel Arenal Xilopalo

The staff hoist bananas onto trees around the hotel each morning to attract birds, and you can just sit on your balcony with a cool drink (there’s a bar and a fridge in your room) watching the clouds scurry over the volcano or the birds fighting over bananas.

Hotel Arenal Xilopalo view
Volcano and parrots from our balcony

Author: Jane's Midlife Journey

Stopped work, started travelling. Sometimes I run - combining the two with some parkrun tourism.

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